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South Jersey Gas, Board of Public Utilities and Ocean City celebrate fortification of coastal infrastructure against storms

CAPTION: New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Richard S. Mroz and Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian joined South Jersey Gas President Dave Robbins and Senior Vice President Paul Zuccarino in Ocean City on Monday, July 31, 2017, to celebrate the successful transition of 92 miles of coastal infrastructure from a low-pressure to a high-pressure system.

FOLSOM, N.J., Aug. 1, 2017 – New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Richard S. Mroz and Ocean City Mayor Jay A. Gillian joined South Jersey Gas President Dave Robbins at 19th Street and Central Avenue in Ocean City to celebrate the successful conversion of the island’s natural gas distribution mains from a low-pressure to a high-pressure system. This upgrade is designed to fortify the utility’s system, better protecting service to residents against severe weather impacts such as those experienced during Superstorm Sandy.

“All of us have firsthand experience with the devastating effects that extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy can cause,” Mroz said. “In the aftermath of Sandy, the Christie Administration and the Board made it a priority to harden and improve the resiliency of gas, electric and water utility infrastructure statewide. To better handle such storms, the Board approved natural gas infrastructure improvement programs totaling approximately $2.4 billion. In addition to being better prepared for the next storm, replacement of aging gas infrastructure also increases the safety and reliability of the gas distribution system. So while we may not be able to predict the next Superstorm, we do know that the residents of Ocean City and all across New Jersey will benefit from these types of investments in safe, reliable service.”

“Infrastructure improvements have been my number one priority since I took office, and I’m deeply appreciative that South Jersey Gas is making similar investments in the future of Ocean City,” Gillian said. “The long-term benefits for our residents and property owners far outweigh the short-term inconveniences of the construction work.”

The work in Ocean City was a part of a larger project, the Storm Hardening and Reliability Program (SHARP), which allowed South Jersey Gas to replace 92 miles of distribution mains along the barrier islands of Atlantic and Cape May counties.

“To safely and efficiently replace 92 miles of distribution main in an accelerated time frame is an accomplishment we are truly proud of,” Robbins said. “With the SHARP, we have better insulated our system against future storms and floods, while enhancing our ability to remedy system issues if they do arise. These improvements could not have been made without the support of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the collaborative efforts of the municipalities the work targeted and all those involved in completing this work for South Jersey Gas.”

After Superstorm Sandy struck the East Coast and devastated parts of the region in 2012, state officials encouraged utilities to pursue improvements that would support system reliability and better protect service to residents. South Jersey Gas evaluated the type of damage Sandy’s impacts produced and recognized that portions of its low-pressure coastal infrastructure were more vulnerable to service interruptions from water and sand intrusion. In collaboration with regulators, the company determined that a stronger system could be achieved, resulting in a $103.5 million investment to accelerate infrastructure replacement in 10 local communities.

SHARP work began in July 2014, creating 413 jobs to date, as South Jersey Gas worked collaboratively with all the communities impacted to ensure strong communications with local officials and sensitivity to the seasonal impacts that this extensive work has had on a number of our shore towns.

The program allowed for the replacement of aging cast iron and steel distribution lines with new plastic high-performance polyethylene material that also makes it easier for South Jersey Gas to respond to potential leaks or damage by third-party excavators. Excess Flow Valves (EFV) were also installed to residential and business service lines. The EFVs are mechanical safety devices designed to shut off the flow of natural gas automatically in the event of a service line break or excavation damage.

In addition to the Ocean City work, South Jersey Gas also replaced low-pressure systems in Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate, Longport, Wildwood, North Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, Cape May and West Cape May.

About South Jersey Gas

South Jersey Gas, subsidiary of South Jersey Industries (NYSE:SJI), delivers safe, reliable, affordable natural gas and promotes energy efficiency to approximately 381,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Salem, and portions of Gloucester, Burlington and Camden counties in New Jersey. Visit www.southjerseygas.com to learn more about South Jersey Gas and its programs.

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